Three piece wake up a quiet corner of sleepy Suffolk with riffs, changing time signatures and the kitchen sink.
It only takes 40 seconds for Three Screaming Popes to move from ambient Air-like keyboards to crunching, stuttering riffs but it sets the tone perfectly for what is to come. Three Screaming Popes are a three piece (none of them are Popes, though they may occasionally scream) from Suffolk who have been quietly recording and self-releasing albums from the studio owned by singer/guitarist/composer Tim Pannell, along with bass player/keyboard player Steve Hewes and drummer/percussionist Martin Everett. That the studio is called Scarlett Timpannell Studios shows a sense of humour to go with the adventure shown on this, their third long player.
As with previous releases, ‘Bit Crush Sunset’ shows a propensity to come up with some killer riffs played with a sense of abandon and daring backed up with some neat changes of pace and dynamic. The opening ‘Let Her Down’ is a case in point. Following the quiet/loud opening it takes in some ‘locked in a distant room’ fuzzy guitar and a choir of friends/family questioning how the subject matter is going to get out of a tricky situation with a partner. There’s barely a breath taken before killer riff two kicks in with ‘Never’, interspersed with picked and rhythm guitar and a maginificently crazy synth outro.
There is a pause for breath at the start of the third track, some nice harmonies leading in to guitar with tremelo to the fore and what sounds like a glockenspiel being mullered in the back ground. There’s more guitar/synth jousting in ‘Game’ with the sound so far being somewhere between grunge and that period before Brit Pop took hold (early Radiohead and Boo Radleys spring to mind). Though Pannell is a constant in the songwriting department, all tracks are co-writes with various band members with the exception of ‘Take the Blame’ which he alone wrote and features excellent drumming from Everett and skyscraping guitar from the writer. ‘Stay/Away’ takes on enough influences to leave you feeling giddy, with its ‘baggy’ era bass line and slightly druggy sounding vocal to the fore before a Suede like guitar figure lurches into another doomy riff which the Sabs or Soundgarden would be proud of. The soloing on this track is just as varied with the rhythm section providing a suitably manic back up.
A lively synth introduces ‘Control’ adding an at times euphoric feel to the guitar textures while ‘Dig Her Grave’ is slightly deranged and energetic. There’s another crunching, demonic riff to introduce ‘Like A Thief’, though vocally this sounds strangely like The Beatles ‘Come Together’ and features some nice harmonising between the band members. More unhinged soloing brings the song to a close. ‘Down in the Sand’ features Tim Pannell at his most frenetic in the vocal department, backed by a guitar that is lower down in the mix but no less effective and would be a suitable closer for the album if it wasn’t for the last track. On first listening to ‘Pour Some Shade Into Your Cup’, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s mistakenly been tagged on from some long lost New Orleans jazz album. This is, however, the band stretching out in full flow to produce a 9 minute epic in majestic fashion. Aside from that lazy, jazzy opening it takes in bar room piano, mandolin, prog rock and an infectious sing along chorus with rousing brass backing. No guitar riffing here, but some excellent soloing, including on trumpet (I think) by Tim Pannell, who also plays in a local, award winning silver (brass to my mates up north) band as well as being part of the touring group for Ian Page’s Secret Affair. It’s as head spinningly good as it is unexpected.
The album is released on Papasan Records and can be purchased through the bands web site: